The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced that the 2014 SEED Awards Africa Symposium will be hosted at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi. This is one of the largest gatherings of start-up social and environmental enterprises ever, as 41 green entrepreneurs are celebrated at this event.
The Award winners will receive from SEED a package of individually tailored support for their businesses, technical assistance, access to other supporting institutions, and a financial contribution of US$5,000.
According to UNEP, the SEED Awards identify and support innovative social and environmental start-up enterprises, which can tackle key sustainable development challenges at community level, in developing and emerging economies.
“As in previous years, the 2014 SEED Awards have a special focus on Africa, with 28 Awards made to enterprises in Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. A further ten SEED Low Carbon Awards go to climate-smart enterprises across the globe that contribute towards grassroots climate change mitigation and/or adaption. Special recognition is also given to three women-led enterprises that promote gender equality and women’s empowerment as their core objectives,” added UNEP.
“Every SEED Award Winner will receive a financial contribution, technical assistance, access to different supporting institutions, and tailor-made support to develop their business and skills,” explained UNEP.
From an enterprise that produces premium outdoor furniture out of recycled plastic and organic waste materials in Colombia, to a women’s farming cooperative that improves food security in Nepal, to enterprises that market solar electricity kiosks in rural off grid areas of Malawi and promote bikes as subsidised moving billboards for the rural poor in Mozambique – this year’s SEED Winners again demonstrate that innovation, working in partnerships, and a dedicated focus on sustainability contribute significantly towards building a world of flourishing communities in which eco-entrepreneurship drives sustainable development, according to UNEP.
“The 2014 call for applications saw contributions from 84 countries, representing the collaborative efforts of partnerships between enterprises, non-governmental organizations, women’s and youth groups, labour organizations, public authorities, international agencies, and academia. Most of the applications were in the agricultural and rural development sectors; others were in energy and climate change, and ecosystem management. Many entries at the same time addressed IT applications, and education and training,” UNEP mentioned.
Achim Steiner, UNEP’s Executive Director commented: “The SEED Winners are visionaries who are spearheading the green economy among diverse communities and across a wide range of sectors. We are especially proud of the SEED’s acknowledgement of women-led green enterprises having introduced the Gender Equality component since 2011.”
“We salute the vision, innovation and resilience of these trailblazers as they lead the way towards a greener and more sustainable future,” he said.
Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator also noted: “The 2014 SEED Winners, have followed enlightened social and environmental pathways in their entrepreneurial activities. They offer good examples of how local entrepreneurs can contribute to successful and sustainable development.”
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director UN Women said: “Women’s economic empowerment is central to achieving gender equality. It’s more than a matter of basic fairness: it’s an established positive cycle. With a livelihood and an income of their own, women have increased status, can provide for their families, and become empowered in other parts of their lives as well, such as making decisions about education, housing, food choices, and medical care.
“We are pleased to be working with SEED and supporting the SEED Gender Equality Awards for the outstanding women-led social and environmental enterprises that are leading the way,” said Mlambo-Ngcuka.
The 2014 SEED Gender Equality Award winners by country include Bangladesh, Nepal and Zimbabwe.